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Minister’s December Letter

Dear Friends,

                 By the time you read this Newsletter, you will know precisely how many days left until Christmas; your Christmas to-do lists will have been written and re-written at least three times because the people in your life keep changing their plans; the media will be predicting shortages of anything from turkeys to chocolate mints and panic will be setting in.

 As it has been my privilege this year to write the Nativity Play (for an indefinite number of people ranging in age from 3 months to 70+) it has struck me, not for the first time, that the original Christmas Story is itself somewhat chaotic: a young couple’s marriage is unsettled by an unexpected pregnancy; the Roman Emperor sends everyone travelling around the country in order to create a census;  a group of shepherds say they have seen angels; a group of foreign dignitaries claim to have followed a star to a new born King, taking a wrong turning in the direction of King Herod, who promptly declares war on the children of Bethlehem; the borders are crowded with refugees trying to escape and an exhausted Innkeeper is trying to work out just what did happen in his stable.  The stories of things-going-wrong-in-Nativity-Plays have filled books and no doubt we shall add one or two more this year but what do you expect when the story itself is both messy and unpredictable?

 I am not sure where the tradition of perfectly prepared Christmas food, perfectly organised families and perfectly wrapped presents started, but it certainly did not start with Jesus. Jesus was born in appalling conditions and into a chaotic world. And nothing changed much as he grew up. He had no settled home, a difficult relationship with his family, enemies in high places and friends who were struggling with a harsh life under an unjust regime. His death was cruel and undeserved; his resurrection open to question.  How did we come to acclaim him as Son of God and Saviour of the world?

 I guess because there was something about Jesus that was “real.” He succeeded in bringing the real presence of God into a chaotic life. He did not preach complicated theologies and nor did he demand impossibly high levels of religious observance. He just made it possible for people like us to see the presence of God in our real world and to be the presence of God in our real world. God is in the sowing and harvesting, the sweeping and baking, the buying and selling, the celebrating and grieving: wherever there is tender love, honest truth, deep wisdom, unquenchable hope and a longing to know God, God is there. Even less-than-perfect turkey and sprouts have something of God in them when they are shared out with love and received with gratitude along with God’s gift of himself to us.

And, as this church moves into a New Year with a lot of changes confronting us all, let us hold onto the reason why we are here: to see the presence of God in our world and to be the presence of God in our world.  If you are not sure quite where to start then allow me to suggest a New Year’s Resolution to you: that you will attend and take part in Church meetings through 2023. These should be the occasions on which church members support and encourage one another in faith and in working together on the mission of our church.  I cannot remember how many times I have tried to stress that our church is “conciliar” in that it is members and not the Minister who make the decisions and determine the direction of the church and from May 2023 there will be no Minister…….    The first Church Meeting in 2023 will be on Sunday 5th March from 12 noon-1pm. Please save the date now.

 You may have noticed an “Action for the Month” in our weekly emailing? This is a way of offering every church member one small thing they can do to build up the life of the church. Elsewhere in the Newsletter you will see the Minutes from our October Church meeting and all the areas where members were asked to think, make suggestions or volunteer are highlighted.  So, the Action for December and for January is to find at least one of those highlighted items and act on it.

 Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

God Bless and Keep you all,


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